Former champions' fall from grace is complete

FORMER Italian champions Fiorentina have been refused a place in Serie B for next season and are facing bankruptcy.

Italian Football League president Adriano Galliani said the only chance the city of Florence has of maintaining a presence in professional football is if a new club is formed and is granted a place in the third or fourth division.

"The old Fiorentina doesn't exist anymore and it is vital that a new club is born to represent Florence," he said.

The troubled club, relegated from Serie A last season, and in administration, have reported debts of around 22 million and the federal council of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) met yesterday to discuss what level the team will be allowed to play in next term.

A spokesman for Fiorentina, who were playing Champions League football just three seasons ago, said the club had not been granted permission by the council to play in the second division, Serie B, next season.

Three Serie C clubs face uncertain futures Anastasia, Fasano and Lecco were not registered for their leagues due to their financial positions.

Fiorentina president Vittorio Cecchi Gori promised he would find the necessary cash before Thursday's deadline but so far there has been no sign of the capital injection needed to save the club.

The option of a new club has been floated by local politicians and FIGC president Franco Carraro said he had asked the federation to assess whether it is possible to leave the door open to a possible new club.

"Today is a terrible today because a club with great tradition, a real part of Italian football has not been able to be signed up to the championship," said Carraro, "It is a defeat for all of us.

"It would be a mistake to start laying blame at this moment and I have asked the council to weigh up all the possibilities. There is a reasonable possibility they could be included in Serie C2 but it is less easy to imagine C1," he said.

Portugal striker Nuno Gomes, who has been linked with Tottenham, is the leading star who is expected to be released from his contract. Yugoslavia's Predrag Mijatovic and Italy's Enrico Chiesa are also among players who are sure to interest clubs such as Manchester United and West Ham both of whom are looking for a striker.

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